Smut aside, the events in between the in medias res–like device the narrative uses to launch itself serve the following things:
- Remind us of, or re-present us with the characters of the narrative with some updates.
- Characterize the relationship between the two leads.
I find it striking how Senjougahara is portrayed with significantly less smut, to negligible levels (especially relative to everyone else). Ever since they got together, the fanservice coming from Senjougahara is circumstantial and verbal. She’s completely stopped being shown naked and such.
Senjougahara: serious business; everyone else: temptations for Araragi.
This is all played out during an interrogation scene between Senjougahara and Araragi. I’m no expert in BDSM but I’ve heard/read quite a few times that the locus of power is in the one being punished, especially because the “session” is something the punished asks for, or at the very least tolerates and has the power to terminate.
This is clear when something very important (Araragi’s sister needs him), he breaks free from his shackles using his Vampire powers. Suddenly, it’s Senjougahara who has to assert how she isn’t going to back down from a fight with a Vampire.
I find this all very interesting, because in this harem dynamic – reinforced by the previous episodes and the temptation thingy, re-establishes the locus of power: Araragi IS the main character and he is not quite just your weakling milquetoast generic harem lead – maybe he never was, but clearly not anymore if he ever was.
Senjougahara is now desired, clearly so, because of her tsundere service. That’s her charm point. And it’s something that doesn’t easily get brushed off as database crap because I do acknowledge the feeling underneath all this verbal calisthenics. She wants to protect him from himself because she loves him… but that thing she’s protecting him from, is precisely why she knows he’s worth it.
I love these guys.
Oh yeah, as my post title suggests – an antagonist appears: one of the confidence men who Senjougahara dealt with when she failed to get rid of her weight problem prior to meeting Araragi and Oshino. It would seem that this guy would target the haremettes, and eventually endanger Araragi’s sisters. So it begins.